Monday, May 28, 2007

Threadless Summer Sale!

Threadless, the place where I buy almost all my T-Shirts (excepting stuff I buy at Comic-con and small press shows), is having one of their regular $10 sales. Most of their shirts (which are voted on by the membership and designed by people all over the country) are really cool, and I already have at least a half-dozen. After this sale, I'll have about ten more.

You can check them out HERE.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - May 31, 2007

Black Coat Or Give Me Death #1 (First series didn't end great, but was otherwise very enjoyable... looking forward to picking up the cliffhanger)
Hellboy Darkness Calls #2 (First issue was solid, with beautiful art... but I think I'd like Hellboy to go back to the BPRD now)
Punisher Max Vol 3 HC (Waiting for hardcovers pays off, as I've got some new Punisher stories to read in the format I prefer)
Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic #17 (I've been digging this adventurous, light-hearted take on early Star Wars, and have gone from reading trades to reading issues)
Usagi Yojimbo #103 (Continues to be a great read every time)

Daredevil #97 (I like this book, but I do think Brubaker's noir sensibilities are a little off-kilter with the take on the superhero genre I prefer)
Drawing From Life #1 (Jim Valentino returns to auto-bio)
Fallen Angel #16 (Love Kristian's guest art, but I don't even know where the story is at this point)
Fear Agent Vol 2 My War TP (Good solid action-heavy sci-fi with great art)
Previews Vol XVII #6 (Down the Line already in the works)
Spider-Man Fairy Tales #1 (Could be kind of fun, almost certainly will have nice art)
White Picket Fences #1 ('50s period piece with weird science/alien elements, sounds like fun)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

TV Thoughts - Summer Finales & Fall Preview

I watch a fair amount of TV, it's probably my favorite medium aside from comics. And though there's a lot of it that's trash (say 99.99% of reality television, for example, if the 0.01% is Celebrity Poker Showdown and Dinner for Five), there's also a lot of good stuff. I always enjoy the Network upfronts at the beginning of summer, because there's always so much promise in what's going to come next. I know in my heart that, as per usual, most of the shows I like will struggle for an audience and die, leaving me frustrated with their sudden departures, but there's usually a flood of promising new series. Last season was especially promising. This season? Not so much.

But before I talk about what's coming up, a few words on what's going on. As I write this, I'm just about to sit down and watch the Lost season finale on Tivo. With the exception of the Hurley-VW bus episode, I've been really crazy about this season of Lost. I know many folks felt it jumped the Ezra James Sharkington this season, but I couldn't disagree more. Especially in the last half-dozen episodes or so, the show has started giving fascinating answers, raising even more fascinating tension and presenting the same elevated level of writing and acting that you just plain can't on a genre show, most of the time.

I hope it's good, because so far, my season enders have been downers. I was hugely disappointed in the lackluster Heroes finale, which spent a lot of time on weepy build-up that duplicated all the effort made in the previous excellent four or five episodes, and left too little time for a lackluster and illogical final fight with Sylar. Lots of build-up, disappointing payoff, and too many questions stopped me from enjoying it. Like why does D.L. go from mortally wounded to okay enough to lay around for a few hours before surviving, with no apparent medical attention? Why didn't Sylar use some abilities besides telekinesis when battling the assembled heroes? Why didn't Peter pull out some impressive abilities in that fight? Why couldn't Peter fly on his own, and if it's because he only uses one power at once, why was that never, ever mentioned, not even once, during the show? Kind of a crucial thing to leave out, if your big season finale cliffhanger is going to rely on it. I didn't hate the finale... it was solid enough that I still plan to pick up the DVDs. But after the notable jump in quality the show took in the last half of the season, it was disappointing to see it plummet down to the "merely OK" quality level that it begun the season at.

Veronica Mars? I'm disappointed that it's gone, but also disappointed by the ending. They were good shows, but the last episode seemed like the kind of thing that could have been an entire season arc, or at least one of their mini-arcs, and the payoffs would have been great with that much more build-up. I'm glad that Logan and Veronica didn't wind up together (I hated that relationship as a long-term thing, and much as I found Piz boring, I preferred him to gripy, bitter Logan. Nobody ever really seemed to match wits properly with Veronica in terms of her boyfriends, which is a shame) and the downer ending, while sad, did fit the general vibe of the show. It was also great to see Mac and Wallace return from invisibility to regain the roles they should have had for the last season and a half of the show. Season three was pretty weak, and I doubt very much I'll be picking up the DVDs. Again, not an awful finale, but a disappointing one.

All the sitcoms ended well, though. 30 Rock was brilliant and funny, The Office funny and kind of sweet with its turns in the Pam-Jim relationship, My Name is Earl kind of surprising in a "huh, where do they go from here?" way and How I Met Your Mother a cute, relatively fresh take on "the big wedding" episode that also features some notable turns in the Robin-Ted relationship and, as always, show-stopping moments from Neil Patrick Harris' Barney. OK, now that I think about it, not all of the sitcoms ended well. Seeing the J.D.-Eliot story rear its ugly head again in Scrubs put me on the edge of "What the hell are you doing?" rage. We've been there before, gotten all the mileage there is out of it, I'd rather see J.D. and Eliot in the just-friends relationship, the way they work best. Scrubs was a weaker season, and I'm torn... on one hand, I'm glad they get another season to try and do the final season right, on the other I'm wondering if it's going to get weaker still and go out on a weaker note.

Midseason and summer looks pretty great to me as well. Sopranos is doing that slow-burn thing really well, Entourage is fun again (although it still hasn't hit the addictive level for me it did during season two) and The Shield is amazing. The most consistently excellent show on television. And the teaser for Glenn Close's new show, a lawyer show that seems to be much more a gritty crime drama than another Shark or Law & Order, looks very promising. Midseason also brings the return of several shows that I like but don't love, like The 4400, Rescue Me and Big Love. Combine with several new shows launching from HBO (none of which look great, but I can never judge HBO on their teasers, which are inevitably weaker than their shows) and this looks like a good summer for TV.

Good thing, because the Fall season looks like it's gonna suuuuuuuck. I mean, there are returning favorites, like Lost, Heroes, the NBC Thursday comedy block (it's Must-See again) and How I Met Your Mother, but the crop of new shows is disappointing. And the shows I really liked this season, like Smith and Kidnapped, got killed early and thus, no season two. Even flawed shows that could have gotten better, like Studio 60, are gone, gone, gone. So it was up to the networks to come up with some fresh new shows to catch my eye again. And they failed miserably. Here's what I'm looking at for next season:

8:00 p.m. How I Met Your Mother (CBS) - Now that I've discovered this show, I can't get enough of it. It's not Arrested Development or even 30 Rock or The Office, but it's a good, solid, occasionally off-beat comedy with a great cast.

9:00 p.m. K-Ville (FOX) - This is a cop drama (strike one), but it's set in post-Katrina New Orleans (I have a fondness for the city going back to before Katrina, so I like the setting) and stars Anthony Anderson (who rocked the house in The Shield). Too bad it's opposite Heroes, meaning that I won't be watching it. In fact, given that this is the only series FOX has that holds any interest for me, it looks like I'm down from one or two FOX shows to none. Come January, they're promising a revitalized 24 (they've won me back once, with season four and five, but I'm not sure I'm up for another go-round after the crap they served up this season... if the show isn't centered on CTU and Los Angeles, I might be interested... if it is, I'm gone) and, more importantly, The Sarah Connor Chronicles. There's plenty of life in the Terminator franchise, and this could be really good. Of course, it's Fox and it's sci-fi, so it's probably doomed anyway.

9:00 p.m.: Heroes (NBC) - The finale may have been a bit of a letdown, but the teaser for season two was fun. Looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

10:00 p.m.: Journeyman (NBC) - A drama starring Kevin McKidd (whoever the hell that is) as a man who travels back in time to help people in trouble. The vibe I'm getting, for whatever reason, is that this is gonna be lame. I may or may not watch, depending on the advance word.

9:00 p.m.: Chuck (NBC) - The teaser for this one on the NBC website is kind of funny, with just a touch of Judd Apatow flavor (even though he has nothing to do with it, the show is in fact by The O.C.'s creator). It's a spy dramedy starring Zachary Levi as a regular guy who stumbles upon a second career as a government agent. Has potential, and Adam Baldwin as a supporting player, which is a plus.

9:00 p.m.: Reaper (CW) - And over on The CW, at the same time, is a show with a similar premise, except that the everyman stumbles onto a second career as a bounty hunter for the Devil, because his parents sold his soul when he was born. Neat enough premise, but it conflict with Chuck, which I'm more interested in, and which has the additional benefit of not being on the network that cancelled Veronica Mars.

10:00 Cane (CBS) - An ensemble business about a Florida rum family, with a good cast. Again, though, I just don't care much about the premise. If it's more crime drama than family drama, I might be onboard. But I doubt it.

Meanwhile, ABC offers up a show about the Geico cavemen. Somebody in programming must have lost a bet.

8:00 p.m.: Pushing Daisies (ABC) - Another weird premise, this one about a guy whose touch can bring someone back to life, but then he can't touch them ever again without undoing the gift. Too bad one of the first people he brings back is his girlfriend. Weird, intriguing premise, pushed over the top because the guy behind it is Bryan Fuller, of Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls.

9:00 p.m.: Bionic Woman (NBC) - I don't particularly care about a remake of the 1970s TV series, except that the teaser from NBC looks solid enough, and more importantly, one of the guys behind it is David Eick, who helped make another revamp of another '70s TV sci-fi series (Galactica) I didn't care about into one of my favorite shows. Not particularly looking forward to it or anything, but I'll give it a couple episodes to hook me.

10:00 p.m.: Dirty Sexy Money (ABC) - Got a mild interest in this one because of the cast, but I generally don't have much interest in the "rich people are such bastards" genre. If it's more Arrested Development than Dallas, that'll be one thing, but I don't think that's the vibe I'm getting.

8-8:30 p.m.: My Name Is Earl (NBC)
8:30-9 p.m.: 30 Rock (NBC)
9-9:30 p.m.: The Office (NBC)
9:30-10 p.m.: Scrubs (NBC)

10 p.m.: Big Shots (ABC) - I like this cast, which features Christopher Titus, Michael Vartan, Josh Malina, but it's another "how rich and powerful people live" show and quite frankly, I don't much care.

9:00 Moonlight (CBS) - A vampire P.I. - Hmm, where have I seen that before? I have serious doubts that this is going to live up to the moody, noir and yet fun vibe that Angel achieved, and I'm more expecting another half-hearted, quickly cancelled attempt at genre from the networks, who (with rare exceptions) don't seem able to pull them off. Especially bummed because this got picked up instead of the zombie show Babylon Fields... we haven't had a lot of zombie TV, as compared to the numerous vampire shows.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - May 23, 2007

Criminal #6 (The new story arc begins!)
Dynamo 5 #3 (Really digging this new superhero team book by Jay Faerber and Mahmud Asrar... Invincible fans especially should give this a look)
Fantastic Four #546 (Dwayne McDuffie and Paul Pelletier are kicking much ass on this book)
Spirit #6 (Darwyn Cooke is a genius, and his take on The Spirit is genius as well)
Fell Vol 1 Feral City TP (Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith doing weird police procedural... fun stuff)

Captain America #26 (Not quite sure I'm up for a couple years of a Captain America book without Captain America, but it's solidly written and drawn)
Gutsville #1 (Bizarre concept, nice art by Frazer Irving, I'm looking forward to this)
Irredeemable Ant-Man #8 (I think I missed last issue... I'll see when I try and read this one, I guess)
Left On Mission #2 ('70s style spy novel in comic book form)
Legend Of Grimjack Vol 7 TP (Yay, more Grimjack reprints!)
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #1 (All-ages Iron Man who isn't a government stooge/total dick)
Psycomm Vol 2 (Tony Salvaggio's futuristic media criticism/psychic warfare book gets a second volume)
Star Wars Legacy #12 (Started reading this again after picking up the trade... too many factions, but solid writing and gorgeous art)
Spider-man Loves Mary Jane Vol 3 My Secret Life Digest (More Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane always welcome as well)
Transformers Escalation TP (Movie trailer and interested friends have me in Transformers mode, time to give this a read)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Weekly Comics to Come - May 16, 2007

BPRD Garden Of Souls #3 (Every issue of this series is gold)
Left on Mission #1 (Very good new spy series from Boom!)
Local #9 (A new issue of Local is always welcome)
Mouse Guard Vol 1 Fall 1152 HC (Looking forward to seeing this great series in a beautiful hardcover)
Plain Janes (The launch of DC's Minx line, art by Jim Rugg of Street Angel)

Adventures In Oz HC (I bought the trade, but the hardcover is sooo cool... very tempting)
Death Jr. II #3 (Late enough that I've forgotten what's going on, but the good news is it means the trade is imminent)
Ex Machina #28 (Been really digging this one lately)
Fables #61 (The second part of the Frog Prince story, which has rekindled my interest in the book)
GI Joe Storm Shadow #1 (Larry Hama does ninja shit... OK, I'll check that out)
The Goon: Satans ##### Baby (Offensively funny, or just offensive? Or just funny? Worth looking to find out)
Marvel Adventures Avengers #13 (Jeff Parker rocks, and I love that someone is writing the Avengers I want to read)
Runaways Vol 3 HC (The Vaughan/Alphona Runaways is all collected in hardcover. Nice.)
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic Vol 2 TP (First volume was great, action-packed Star Wars stuff)
Uncanny X-Men #486 (The finale of the Brubaker/Tan space X-Men saga)
Wasteland #9 (Hyped for this book again after reading the trade and re-connecting with the story and characters)
X-Men First Class Special (Decided to wait on the trade to read the series, but I'll definitely check out this special in the meantime)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Con Planning

So I'm definitely going to San Diego this year. Flight booked, hotel room arranged, registration in. Done.

But after looking at the guest list and seeing some of what's going to be offered there (like Vasilis Lolos' new mini-comic), I'm dying to get to MOCCA at the end of June. Just one small hitch... MOCCA doesn't really have any info on hotels, etc.

So... anybody out there have advice on where to stay in New York that's convenient to MOCCA and relatively cheap? I'm not a newbie to the subway in New York, I rode it for about six months and I actually find it a pretty convenient way to travel, so it doesn't have to be too close... just close enough so that I won't be on the subway for an hour each way or something crazy like that.

Shot in the dark, really, and I don't know that anybody reading this blog will be able to give any advice, but I figure it's worth a shot.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Adventures in Retailing: Free Comic Book Day 2007

Wow, was that a long (but rewarding) week.

This was my fifth Free Comic Book Day. I've worked every one since the beginning (aside from 2006, when I had a family reunion to attend instead) and they're always a lot of work, but very rewarding. It's even moreso (on both fronts) when you're the store owner.

We had a great Free Comic Book Day. We ordered just enough, for the most part. We even have a few Spider-Man, Bongo and Justice League left over for next year. My fears of running out of the Umbrella Academy sampler or Spider-Man didn't come true. My only regret is that we didn't order more Astounding Wolf-Man, as we ran out of that about mid-day, and I would have liked to have had it into the night. But in general, everybody got the comics they wanted. We started off giving out three to a person, but in the early afternoon moved to five per person, and by the end of the night it was "one of each of what's left" which equated to somewhere between 6-10 per person, depending on how close it was to the end of the night.

From noon until about 3:30, we had comic book creators in the store signing and sketching. Paul Benjamin was clearly in his element, working the crowd, cracking jokes and signing plenty of autographs. We sold quite a few copies of his Pantheon High manga from Tokyopop, and he signed a whole bunch of his copies of Marvel Adventures Two in One Free Comic Book Day offering. Scott Kolins sold several gorgeous prints of pin-ups and covers he had done, as well as doing many a sketch and signing copies of Omega Flight and other works. Billy Tan had two lithographs (one of Hepzibah, one of the X-Men, I bought both for the store) and two sketchbooks (one guys, one girls, I bought both of those as well) and some gorgeous character illustration pieces, and we sold a few of his Uncanny X-Men issues to sign as well. Billy did quite a few sketches as well (including a Corsair for me and a beautiful inked Batman for a customer). Everybody seemed to have a good time, and we were packed to the gills while the creators were there.

Next year, I definitely want to figure out how to get more press coverage. I sent out a press blurb to a ton of folks, including local TV, radio and news and all the comics news sites, and literally nobody picked it up. Many ran press releases for the big Zeus event CAPE (and that's a great event, if I wasn't running my own FCBD I'd be there every year) and a few also ran press for the last-minute mini small press Con being done by Austin Books (again, great store and a good idea for an event.) I was a little frustrated to be ignored when I thought we had a pretty good event put together and I had taken the time to send out press info in advance, but that's the way it goes. Next time, a full fledged press release, even earlier, and more follow-up. Certainly the lack of coverage didn't cost us anything in terms of attendance.

I worked about 14 hours that day, and well over 40 this week getting ready, but it definitely paid off. Tons of kids and adults came in and got free comics. Everybody seemed to have a good time. And I'd do Free Comic Book Day even if it cost us more money, but instead it was our biggest day for the store yet, even counting our five year history. We did about three to four times our usual Saturday business, and even with the expense of free comics, advertising and related costs, it was a very successful day for us.

Already looking forward to next year, and to figuring out what cool event we can run at the store next.

One of my customers, Dave Figueroa, took pictures, so there's a slideshow below.

Weekly Comics to Come - May 9, 2007

Criminal Vol 1 Coward TP (Looking forward to re-reading this all in one sitting, and even more looking forward to the next story arc)
DMZ #19 (Last issue was one of my favorite of the series thus far, previews for this one have looked incredible)
Hack Slash Series #1 (Really good first issue, review up at Comic Pants later this week)
Jack Of Fables #10 (Continues to be fun, and in many ways even better than the series that spawned it)
Killer #4 (More of this beautiful, haunting European series from Archaia)

Countdown #51 (OK, I'll at least give the new weekly a shot... like many, though, I have 52 fatigue at this point)
First In Space GN (The story of America's first chimp in space from Oni... I've read it, it's good)
Immortal Iron Fist #5 (Not loving this book, but interested enough to keep reading)
Invincible #41 (Back onboard Invincible again, although the latest issue was a little blood-soaked for my taste)
Marvel Zombies Dead Days (The origin of the Marvel Zombies, by the original creative team)
Noble Causes #29 (I'm behind on Noble Causes, and I need to catch up)
Nova #2 (Very good first issue, looking forward to the second)
Okko Cycle Of Water #3 (Yay, it's Archaia week! Miyazaki-esque adventure book)
Secret History Book Two (Another Archaia book... first issue of this was gorgeous but story didn't quite click, plan on giving it another chance to hook me)
Sollitaria #1 (Intriguing looking new indy book)
Spider-Man Fantastic Four #2 (Fun superheroics from Jeff Parker and Mike Wieringo)
Star Wars Dark Times #3 (At long last, the third issue of this gorgeously illustrated and well-written Star Wars series comes out)
Thunderbolts #114 (I'm actually really enjoying this cynical anti-hero book)
Two Guns #2 (First issue of this unusual crime thriller was really good... glad to see the second issue arrive in a timely manner, too)
Y The Last Man #56 (Closing in on the end)
Y The Last Man Vol 9 Motherland TP (The penultimate Y The Last Man trade)